03/23/2011 11:45AM

One Sweet Jess lowers 400-yard track record at Los Alamitos


One Sweet Jess joined very elite company when he became the latest 400-yard track record holder at Los Alamitos last week.

One Sweet Jess zoomed 400 yards in 19.11 seconds in the trials for the El Primero Del Ano Derby on March 18, lowering the previous mark of 19.13 set by Apollitical Jess in the Super Derby last November. Apollitical Jess later won the Champion of Champions and was named 2010 World Champion Quarter Horse.

Apollitical Jess broke a record of 19.15 set in the 2009 Vessels Maturity by Freaky, the World Champion that season. (In the 2009 Vessels Maturity, Freaky actually broke his own record of 19.17 set a few weeks earlier in the time trials).

The speedy performance of One Sweet Jess was not a fluke. Trained by Ugo De La Torre, One Sweet Jess won the Golden State Million Futurity last November. The trials for the El Primero Del Ano Derby, which has a final April 10, was One Sweet Jess’s first start of 2011. There was concern about the condition of one of One Sweet Jess’s feet in February, but the colt recovered quickly.

One Sweet Jess won the first of three trials. Ridden by Santiago Mendez, One Sweet Jess overcame a bump with No Bad Habits at the start and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Rare Bac. Through the final 220 yards, One Sweet Jess was timed in 9.12 seconds, the fastest such clocking in track history, although such records have not been kept for many years. He was helped by a tailwind measured at 14 mph.

The previous mark was 9.15 seconds held by Apollitical Jess in the Super Derby trials last fall.

“We thought he would do okay, but a record?” said Gustavo De La Torre, who co-owns One Sweet Jess with his brother, Jose.

One Sweet Jess will be favored in a final that also will feature trial winners Eddie Ray Vaughn and Duke Kahanamoku as well as Rare Back, PK Fire, Current Sea, West Coast Hawk, Macho Mexicano, Loose Perry, and Teller No Lies.

The date of the final has been pushed back 48 hours, to a Sunday, as part of a plan to attract higher handle. In a statement released last weekend, the track announced that several major stakes will be moved to Sundays this year, an evening in which the track has had strong business.